40 countries and counting, 30 countries to visit before you turn 30, 20 places to visit before you die. Does anyone else feel like life has turned into a competitive numbers game? Shares, followers, likes and retweets, the obsession with numbers never ends. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to leave this world with nothing but what may feel like an ‘unfinished’ checklist left behind.

I love travelling and I especially love visiting a new country that I’ve never been to but I’m not actively counting. For me, what really matters is the quality of the experience I have. I would rather have had 10 fantastic trips than have 20 mediocre ones just to simply say, yup, I’ve been there. That’s not to say by the way, that those counting countries have mediocre experiences, but I am very aware of how my brain works. If I started counting I know that very quickly I would be sucked into an unhealthy competition with myself and before I know it my love for travelling would be superseded by my love for having an impressive tally.

There are however two sides to every argument so let me step off my high horse temporarily and offer another perspective. I read a blog post recently by the well-travelled Ellie of The Wandering Quinn. Ellie explores her reasons for choosing to count countries and that post in fact inspired me to write this. I completely respect her reasons for country counting, especially the part around keeping her desire for wanderlust high and getting through the daily grind. Boy, do we all need that in our lives! It’s also interesting to hear Ellie describe travelling as an achievement. This is genuinely something I’ve never considered. It’s just something I do. Travelling certainly does push you out of your comfort zone and in that sense, it should be something to feel proud of.

Am I now tempted to count how many places I’ve been? Of course, and perhaps one day curiosity will get the better of me. I could easily find out how many countries I’ve visited by referring to my blog but for me the enjoyment and motivation to travel doesn’t come from any number. It comes from the endless laughs and memories made along the way and of course the excitement of the next trip. So, for now, that list of countries will remain uncounted. I never really did like maths anyway!

Do you count countries? Let me know in comments 🙂

12 Replies to “The Travelling Numbers Game”

  1. Oh I definitely count countries (And US states. And Continents), but I’m a list maker. I love lists. I adore lists. I live to make lists. I have a list of all the countries I’ve visited that’s numbered so every time I visit a new one it adds up to a new tally. It motivates me to do more, see more, and brings me so much joy each time I look at my list. Having a rough day at work? Get bad news? I just pull up my list and get reminded of the time we visited Ecuador and went paragliding or our trip to the Dominican Republic for my sister’s wedding and got engaged! To each their own, do what makes you happy. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love that you know yourself well enough to decide that counting countries is not best for you despite the pressure you might feel giving that a vast majority of others are counting countries. I read How Not to Travel by Lauren Juliff and in it there’s a statement “travel deep not wide” and that’s my plan! All the best x

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    1. Great post and interesting to read comments too. I’m definitely a counter and would love to visit every country, I find it helpful to have goals like this to make sure I’m always pushing out of my comfort zone. Equally I love to properly explore a place and spend time taking in the culture, I don’t agree when people spend 1 day in a place just to say they’ve been!

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  3. I completely agree with the premise of this post! My “blog” posts are actually stories based on experiences (travel, food, friendships, interactions, etc.) The quality of the experiences are what stay with me. And sometimes, one realizes a lesson learned long after the fact. Thank you for addressing the “numbers game.” It can sneak up on us.

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  4. I completely agree with this. I understand why people maybe want to count how many different places they’ve been too but there is enough pressure in life without having the added pressure of having to visit x amount of countries before you are a certain age.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I couldn’t agree more, it has become a numbers game. I in fact have counted my countries and its not as high as I would like it to be. That being said I can sometimes be staying in countries for long periods of time due to work which in the grand scheme of things I feel is more valuable.

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